TRACK REVIEW: The Last Shadow Puppets – Miracle Aligner

“It’s about a yoga teacher” Alex Turner says in his Yorkshire heavy tone when Zane Lowe asks what his and long time friend Miles Kane’s latest single is about. You’d think considering the weight of the situation, promoting their upcoming second LP as the duo The Last Shadow Puppets named Everything You’ve Came To Expect, that he would take it a bit more serious but that’s arguably the charm of the Arctic Monkeys frontman: he doesn’t give a fuck.

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It’s all fine and dandy to have the care free attitude as long as you’re delivering the goods. Turner could afford that whenever AM came out as regardless of how divisive their new sound was, it sold a fuck ton meaning he could wear that slick back hair and leather jacket without breaking a sweat. Unfortunately it seems like the ego has got the best of him as we get a track that feels like a retread with very little attention paid to it.

Whilst it’s not a horrendous track by any means, Miracle Aligner evokes all the low points and issues I had with the Arctic Monkey’s last outing (slow tempo with an uninteresting vocal delivery and very little in the way of variety) and from what has been presented so far, this LP seems more like an Alex Turner solo project than a collaboration with little to know influence from Kane’s music whatsoever on here. Very safe and borderline bland, it’s a shame that years and years of waiting for The Last Shadow Puppets to return has resulted in a mess of singles which, while all different from one another, feel like this upcoming album has been rushed rather than polished.

Miles Kane and Alex Tuner of the Last Shadow Puppets.

That could arguably be the charm of this record, an album that may reek of carelessness but is fueled by two artists that have a great chemistry and work off one another. Time will tell if that’s the case but from what has been delivered so far, that third album we’ve been teased about may have to go back to the drawing board.

Fingers crossed.

Moderat – Reminder EP REVIEW

German electronic act Moderat managed to overcome the ever fatal second album syndrome that infects any band who release a critically acclaimed debut, a triumph in itself. However, when your track record now features two well received LPs, how on earth do you pull it off again?

In Moderat’s case they’ve done more of the same and who can really blame them: they perfect their own dance-floor sound on II so why fix what isn’t broken.Already drawing comparisons to Radiohead for its vocal delivery that echoes Thom Yorke very heavily, there’s the undeniably catchy techno hook that you’re just as likely to hear at an underground rave as you are on Match Of The Day.

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Admittedly, my relationship with Moderat is limited to only their second LP which caught me off guard in 2013 when I first started reviewing music. With 3 years of experience under my belt, it seems like the act haven’t evolved, rather they’ve just tweaked a few elements and kept that slick production value that will be an easy draw in for any new listeners.

8/10

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IOU Review: January 2016

A new segment where I’ll be taking a look at any albums and singles I’ve missed over the month. Want something reviewed? Let me know via twitter.

Savages – Adore Life

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There’s no easy way to address the elephant in the room when it comes to reviewing Savages latest album: this isn’t the same band we’re used to dealing with. The same untameable and aggressive bunch of women we loved to deal with on 2013’s Silence Yourself where we saw them providing face melting, punch in the face-like tracks like Husbands, Hit Me and No Face. 

Instead the band have decided to go against the bands path of turning it all the way up to 11 and toning it down a bit. Whilst there’s some moments where the band seem to tether back into old territory, for the most part it’s a much calmer, less serious sound that seems to struggle to be joyous and enjoyable, verging on bland and dull from time to time. This brings the albums overall quality down quite a bit though this all comes down to how the idea of a band once known for their ferocity letting their instincts take a back seat to take a breather.

6/10, For Fans Of: Foals, PJ Harvey

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DIIV – Is The Is Are

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Whilst every other publication under the sun can’t seem to review the latest album from New York City shoe-gazers DIIV without rambling on about the problems that faced the band, I’m gonna avoid it at all costs. There may be some relevancy between the issues and the subject matter in hand on their sophomore release but the glaring issue with this record is that it shows little of the promise that Dopamine showcased when it was released last year.

Spanning over 17 tracks lasting over an hour in total, DIIV can’t seem to justify the length of this controversy surrounded LP regardless of what glimmers of genuinely great music there is on show. Though Is The Is Are may address the issues regarding drugs in quite an enjoyable way, sadly the moments in which it does are too far and few between.

5/10, For Fans Of: Beach Fossils, Deerhunter

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Porches – Pool

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Every now and again, I’ll come across a seemingly innocent looking album that I don’t expect much from. Last year this was the case for Jamie XX and as you could tell from my end of year review, I was pleasantly surprised and whilst Porches recent LP may have not evoked the same levels of shock, it’s one that I had a thoroughly good time with.

In the sound department, twangy, poppy synths are littered throughout Pool that automatically get my mind racing to Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs whilst on the lyrical playing field, we get talks about parties, isolation, depression and an abundance of metaphors to water and swimming pools. Pool is pretty much what I’d expect from Bret Easton Ellis’ Less Than Zero if it was ever adapted musically and that’s the greatest and most accurate compliment I can give this album, one that is sure to become one of the hidden gems of 2016.

8/10, For Fans Of: Metronomy, The XX

BLINKCLYRO: 2016 UPDATE

A new year means new stuff: new music, new site and NEW YOUTUBE CHANNEL!!!

2015 was a pretty great year for music (check my favourite albums of last year for further proof). 2015 was also a pretty good year for me and this site. Not only did we find a new home on WordPress but we also managed to rake in over 8,000 views. 8,000. That’s almost the same number of calories I took in from all those energy drinks I needed last year for writing. It’s weird to think that nearly three years ago I was just doing this as a pastime and now I’m actually getting somewhere with it, reviewing what I love (and sometimes despise) and having fun doing so.

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So what next? Well it’s obvious what the next step is: YouTube. Yup, now you won’t have to put up with my written ramblings, you’ll now get to experience me telling you in the most horrible, geeky voice imaginable. Entertaining, I guess?

In all seriousness though, making videos is something I’ve always wanted to do and whilst my camera isn’t the best quality, I’ve managed to make a few decent reviews that are definitely worth your while. As the year goes on, expect to see a rise in quality and perhaps a new background if things go to plan.

For the foreseeable future, there’ll be three different shows. The first will be the normal album or track review, a not-broken-so-don’t-fix-it kind of format. The next is Recordspectives where I’ll choose an artist to cover for the month, reviewing their entire discography and giving my analysis as well as my thoughts on each individual LP.

Lastly there’s the B-Side review which allows me to talk to you lot about, well, anything really! From videogames to movies to TV, this removes those restrictions of being only a music blog, instead more of a primary music channel with all these other sub-topics on board for that extra spice. *insert cheeky nandos emoji here*

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I’m not abandoning the site by any means though, quite the opposite actually! Expect written reviews of all the latest music as well as interviews, feature pieces, gigs and much, much more! If it weren’t for music I’d be even more dull than I am now and with you lot along for the journey (and hopefully more as the year progresses), I cannot wait for this site to flourish in 2016.

Big love, Liam x

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TRACK REVIEW: ROSTAM – EOS

That new Vampire Weekend album you’ve been waiting patiently for might be pushed back further with the recent release of multi instrumentalist and producer Rostam Batmanglij’s new single EOS.

EOS came about naturally after Rostam discovered an old voice memo on his phone.

It’s rare that that happens for me—I’m always collecting ideas on my phone but usually it’s individual building blocks of a song, this was the essential elements all coming out together.

Whilst the track is significantly less vibrant than his more layered, varied past songs like Don’t Let It Go To You and Wood, EOS is by no means a bad track as it features lots of the production flair that made Vampire Weekend’s 2013 LP Modern Vampires Of The City such a hit with trademark choirs and organs. A calm and chilling song that portrays the fatigue Rostam was feeling at the time, the closing line “lo and behold you were here now you’re gone” sang over a lone, simple piano manages to get a smile out of you.

An Ode To Bowie

As the sad news of Bowie’s passing rocks the musical landscape, I give my two cent on the loss of a true genius

It’s not often I’ll address the death of a musician on this site. Whilst I’ve witnessed many artists sadly pass away, I never feel like I can properly express my respects for whoever that may be, whether it was the recently deceased Motorhead frontman Lemmy Kilmister or B.B King.

And even right now, hours after being woken up by the news that musical chameleon David Bowie has died after an 18-month battle with cancer, I’m still struggling to word my response. A man who, to put it lightly, shaped the musical landscape forever and had an impact on every medium possible.

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I could easily write up a simple “History Of” article or a Buzzfeed list of quirky and weird things the musician did during his decade spanning career. And whilst this may seem like the route I would take, it’s not. While this site focuses primarily on up and coming artists as well as new releases, I don’t hesitate to look back at the history of music and for as long as I can remember, Bowie has always been a part of not only that but my life.

One of the first records I went out and bought with my own money was arguably my favourite Bowie record of all time, unbeknownst to me at the time, Hunky Dory. From the staple vinyl crackle to the finale masterpiece that is Bewlay Brothers, the record was one of the most notable memories I have of Bowie, an artist who I knew only for his weird portrayal as a goblin king as well as his singles Let’s Dance and Heroes.

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There’s so many other memories linked to Bowie and his music, from staying up long nights watching  interviews where his charisma seemed to drip out of my television screen to stumbling upon other artists inspired by him and vice versa. Not only has he influenced my music taste but he made me appreciate music for what it is: an art. So much so in fact that the piece I wrote for my college interview was about Ziggy himself and the wonderful persona that still feels fresh and exciting to this day.

Unsurprisingly I’ve never met David Bowie but his effect can be felt on today of all days, not only in the sound department but in how we view ourselves. I saw this worded perfectly by Matt Haig who said:

The main thing he did was legitimise weird. No matter how odd or outside you felt you never be as odd, or as great, as Bowie.

Today has been spent purging through his discography, reminiscing on all of my first listens and favourite tracks. This feeling has been mutual with the entire music community:

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So like I said before, this isn’t a post to capitalise on the death in the hopes for some views or some buzzfeed clickbait list. It’s a heartfelt, personal goodbye to the icon who, even in death, has brought people together in appreciation of not only him but the power of music itself.

And regardless of the tears shed and the sadness many of us feel, it’s touching in a way knowing that even in his dying days Bowie graced us with a new album Blackstar that made us question the man just like we have for the entirety of his career.

The very definition of a legend.

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Gig Review: Echo Valley @ King Tuts ~8/01/2016

Gigs: I love gigs, you love gigs, we all love gigs (unless you’re the type to complain about people bumping into you when you’re in Standing). To me, they’re undoubtedly the best thing about music where a band’s discography takes a whole new form, where they can interact and be intimate with their fans, whether or not you agree is up to you.

This is an opinion shared by many though and one that can inspire many musicians to get involved themselves as nothing seems to make a person feel more alive or happy than performing on stage. King Tuts, recently nominated for the Best Small Venue of 2015 by NME, clearly is one that has the same thinking as they’ve got a whole host of new acts to come along, show what they’ve got and experience what it’s really like in one of the best places you could hope to perform in Scotland.

They’re not all newcomers per say however as shown by Ayrshire-based act Echo Valley, a band who in the past year alone have supported indie juggernauts Peace in this very venue and have travelled to France to perform live. In addition to that, brothers Liam and Shaun McCluskey from the act have organised their very own monthly gigs back down in Ayr to promote new music with various acts coming along to perform. In a way, King Tuts are doing what they have on a grander scale but I’ll take a moment now to stop sounding like a hipster wank.

While the band have accomplished a lot though, do they deserve to be headlining here tonight? Hell fucking yes. As soon as Little Sister opened the set it was impossible to see one person in the room not at least nodding their head in acknowledgement of the track’s alluring sound, others jumping about and singling along to what is undoubtedly a belter of a chorus. What I found strangely amazing about the song though was the reaction it got for a track that starts with the lyrics “drink your virgin’s blood” but go hard or go home I suppose (that’s what all the cool youth are saying anyway).

I was lucky enough to interview Liam and Shaun from the band a few months back and one quote that stuck with me was the band’s integrity, worded perfectly by Shaun himself: “Be yourself unless you’re a dick”. Echo Valley’s performance didn’t come across as non-genuine or artificial in the slightest, a habit that so many bands tend to fall into in an attempt to appeal to a broader audience. Instead there was interlude chats about getting drunk and enjoying both the music and the moment, as down to earth as you could get.

One thing that seemed to annoy the band was the constant comparisons to other indie acts with comments like “they sound just like the Arctic Monkeys” being a backhanded compliment. It’s the easiest job in the world to say that this is no longer the case as each song manages to help create this image of a band providing twisted and personal lyrics over an engaging punk rock sound. Echo Valley are a delight on stage and with us only being 10 days into the new year, 2016 is certain to be eventful. With a new drummer expected as well as a new single, now is a better time than any to keep your eyes on these lads from Ayrshire.

You can find the link to Echo Valley’s Facebook here as well as their twitter.